JERUSALEM—Every Evangelical child knows the story of Daniel in the lion's den.
The young Israeli is far from home, trying to navigate in a big city and a pagan world. His mission is to speak for and to his people, yet his enemies conspire against him. Refusing to betray the God of Israel and his deepest held beliefs, Daniel suddenly finds himself all alone against those who would eat him alive.
Because it’s a true story, it’s one that teaches us about having the courage of our convictions, about taking a stand for truth against a torrent of lies, and about trusting in the promises and faithfulness of the God of Israel, even in moments when it appears all hope is lost.
"In the Lion’s Den" is, therefore, an apt title for a new book by another Daniel – in this case, Danny Danon, who served as Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations for five tumultuous years, from October 2015 to May 2020.
The book releases on May 17, but we've published an excerpt here.
Danon gave ALL ISRAEL NEWS an advance copy of the book and his first interview about the book and why he wrote it.
He told me how he often felt like biblical Daniel, alone and surrounded by enemies as he worked to defend the Jewish state on the world stage.
The book is good, and important.
It tells the inside story of the wide array of enemies trying to discredit, discourage, and even destroy Israel’s image and reputation – from many members of the UN, to many in the media, to BDS activists, to radical Islamists, to Iranian leaders and others.
Why do these forces hate Israel and Jews so much?
What’s the best way to stand strong and refute their lies?
And how can Evangelicals join forces with Israel and the Jewish people, even while showing love and respect to Israel’s Arab and Muslim neighbors?
As I read Danon’s book last weekend, I was struck by how well he addressed these and other questions.
THE OBAMA BETRAYAL
One of the most painful sections of the book deals with what Danon describes as the betrayal of Israel by then-President Barack Obama in the final days of the Obama-Biden administration.
Danon recalled for me the feelings he had “when the U.S. was pushing a resolution against Israel in the Security Council, and I was sitting there by myself – I had no one to rely on.”
He was referring to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that condemned the Jewish state for building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria and demanded that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Danon explains that the Obama administration was actively mobilizing support for the resolution behind the scenes.
“That moment reminded me of the stories of the Bible, including the story of Daniel in the lion's den. We do have friends in the U.S. We do have friends in the UN. But there are certain moments that it's only us...where we have to be strong, and we have to believe. And that's my message in the book,” Danon told me, saying this was his “hardest moment in five years” at the United Nations.
“I realized that I'm fighting not only the Palestinians, not only the EU, but I’m also actually fighting the U.S., the closest ally of Israel.”
“It was hard not only because of the content of the resolution, which was shameful – it called our presence in the Old City of Jerusalem a flagrant violation of international law – not only the language, but also the way that it was done. The U.S. administration chose to do it behind our backs. They were not answering our phone calls,” Danon revealed.
When Danon tried to set up a phone call between then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, he was told by the White House that the president was going on vacation to Hawaii and would not be able to take the call.
“That moment I realized that I have no one to rely on to defend Israel but myself – and that's exactly what I did.”
THE TRUMP REVERSAL
Danon, who currently serves as chairman of the World Likud, was based in New York for the last year of the Obama-Biden administration, and then through the four years of the Trump administration.
When Donald Trump became president and Nikki Haley became the U.S. ambassador to the UN, everything changed, he told me.
“We started to repair the damages.”
One battle that Danon and Haley had to face together was the international backlash at the UN after Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Both Haley and Danon made a calculated decision not to go to the embassy opening ceremony in Jerusalem with all dignitaries, but to remain in New York in order to vigorously defend the move.
“I told her, ‘Nikki, let's take a moment before we go into counting the numbers and take a moment to think together and project about the historical moment we are actually sharing today,’” Danon recalls saying right before heading into a diplomatic battle at General Assembly.
“It wasn't easy, but it was important to send a clear message that we don't back off of Jerusalem. It is our eternal capital and [under Trump] the U.S. stood with us.”
PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ABRAHAM ACCORDS
The Trump administration’s decision to stand firmly by Israel and recognize Jerusalem as its capital was among the steps that paved the way for the success of the Abraham Accords, Danon believes.
“It made clear that America stands by its allies and by the truth and will not be deterred by enemies,” he said. “I believe that the Abraham Accords – that started with Bahrain and the UAE – are a result of other nations saw the connection between Israel and the United States and realized that they can trust the U.S. and wanted to become partners. They understood that the way to partnership with the U.S. is going through Israel.”
“The Abraham Accords for me was a dream,” Danon said. “For years I encouraged my [Arab and Muslim] colleagues in the Gulf to be public about what they really think about Israel. And I'm so proud that it happened.”
PLANNING A POLITICAL COMEBACK
“I learned in diplomacy that if you want to be effective, sometimes you give the credit to others,” Danon told me.
“In politics, you have to fight for credit all day long....But when you are a diplomat, you do a lot of things behind the scenes and I found it fulfilling.”
That said, Danon is not looking for another ambassadorship.
He is planning a return to politics and intends to run in the Likud to regain his seat in the Knesset when the next elections are held.
Danon says he hopes to see a new government replacing the Bennett-Lapid coalition soon.
“We saw the wave of terror attacks in the last few days, and I think it is impossible to continue the way we govern today when you actually have to depend on the radical and Muslim list in the coalition,” he said.
“And I hope maybe we'll be able to form a new government within the existing Knesset. That will be the best because then we will not have to go for another cycle of elections. But if we cannot do that, then the second option will be to go for a general election.”
MORE KNESSET MEMBERS NEED TO WORK WITH EVANGELICALS
I asked Danon if he thinks that every Knesset member understands the Evangelical community’s contribution to the State of Israel and wants to work on building and deepening Israel’s strategic alliance with the world’s 600 million Evangelicals.
“I think we should do a better job in educating the new members of the Knesset, bringing them to see the [Evangelical] community, see the love,” he said.
“I was working with Evangelicals for years [here in Israel], and at the UN. I found them standing with Israel whenever we needed them.”
“If you ask the American people, you will see that they love the State of Israel. It's not only the Evangelicals, but the Evangelicals are very proud of it, and are very loud about it. And that's why we love them so much.”
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.